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Thompson: “Going to Declare”

That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

Fred Thompson was a bit cagey today when asked about whether he actually is running for President, telling the radio show “Mickelson in the Morning,” “I have declared that I’m going to declare.” He is “testing the waters,” but his position is being challenged on a legal front and by a few political strategists who wonder if he’s lost some momentum.

But his wait hasn’t yet cost Thompson in the polls, as he still ranks in the top tier even as an undeclared. That may be thanks to his prime time stardom, which will certainly help more than it hurts, according to the experts who weigh in to the Associated Press. He gets another ringing endorsement, at least for looking presidential, from “Law & Order” producer/creator Dick Wolf.

“When Fred, as Arthur Branch, walks into a room, people feel like they should stand up and salute. Fred is the living definition of command presence,” Wolf says. “If you look back at his previous roles, you can see I’m not the only producer who has felt this way.”

Meanwhile, Thompson’s legal challenge comes from Lane Hudson, a blogger who writes Newsfortheleft.com, who argues that his campaign activities are illegal given that his “testing the waters” committee has acted like any other declared candidate’s committee. Hudson is a former Democratic staffer who had a role in exposing Mark Foley last year.

He writes, “I was reading the research that was done by other bloggers and saw a statement by the FEC that said they were unable to investigate the matter unless a complaint was filed.  So, I pulled together the research done by other bloggers and put it into the form of a complaint.

“Other than that, I was motivated to file the complaint because I am tired of the disregard for the law that we’ve seen in Washington, particularly among Republicans.  There has been enough distrust placed into our electoral system and we need to hold Thompson accountable.”

Thompson’s campaign has dismissed the complaint and said, “We’re following the law.”

There’s speculation that Thompson will declare after Labor Day, which means that he won’t have to publicly disclose much of his campaign’s financials until after Janurary 1, a thought that irks not just those on the Democratic side but surely some of the other GOP campaigns.

Exclusiv_eric_14651564_400_2 “Hardball” Switch: Tammy Haddad is leaving her post as exec producer of “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” the MSNBC show that’s a favorite among Washington insiders and political junkies. She will continue to focus on broader political coverage for the news network.

Chiding the FCC: Civil rights groups demand an apology from FCC chair Kevin Martin for what they call “patronizing and insulting” remarks he made about their opposition to a proposal to offer cable programming ala carte.

Declare Yourself: Hayden Panettierre, right, turns 18 and registers to vote as part of Norman Lear’s Declare Yourself voter project.

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